In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of those pesky April showers, we’re looking at songs with “rain” in the title.
Slayer, “Raining Blood” (1986)
When A.V. Club copy editor Gwen Ihnat first suggested this theme, it was hard to not be taken with the idea. Having spent the first few weeks of April biking to work in a daily deluge, the theme made perfect sense. That said, the song I most closely associated with those soggy days didn’t qualify for the prompt. When I found myself biking through rain, snow, hail, and whatever else the atmosphere decided to throw at me, I’d be singing the lines to Bomb The Music Industry!’s “Felt Just Like Vacation,” as Jeff Rosenstock’s declaration that “The winter never kills me” is the type of rallying cry I needed to repeat in order to keep my sanity. As the days pressed on, and I got increasingly more gross, I’d jokingly declare, “Now I shall / Reign in mud,” because there’s nothing like a well-timed Slayer joke to improve one’s waterlogged state.
The thing about “Raining Blood” is that, while it feels a bit obvious, it’s still utterly essential. Even those not versed in thrash-metal could likely identify the track by the iconic diminished-scale that intros it. After some thunderstorm sound effects and drummer Dave Lombardo whacking his toms, what comes is one of the most recognizable riffs in all of metal. Penned by late guitarist Jeff Hanneman—who was responsible for some of Slayer’s best works—“Raining Blood” is the song that proved the band had crossover potential.
While Reign In Blood has rightly earned its place in the hesher starter kit, its ability to gain traction outside the long-haired denizens is entirely indebted to “Raining Blood.” Even when it’s reinterpreted, the song still feels unmistakably like Slayer. When Natalie Prass tackled it for A.V. Club Undercover, she transformed it into a gruesome blues song, but even her version retained the track’s ominous undertones. It’s why “Raining Blood” will always endure, even as it enters its third decade.